Manager Terry Collins says his fault Mets didn't use pinch runner

ATLANTA -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins fell on his sword Saturday, taking responsibility for not recognizing the need for a pinch runner on what became a potentially game-deciding play.

The strategic lapse resulted shortly thereafter in a painful neck injury for Wilmer Flores and a stinging 4-3 defeat to the Atlanta Braves in 10 innings at Turner Field.

The Mets (75-67) fell out of the second wild-card position as their six-game winning streak snapped. They now trail the San Francisco Giants by 1 games and the St. Louis Cardinals by a half-game for the two wild-card spots.

Flores had produced a two-out double in the top of the eighth with the score tied at 3. Collins said he was distracted by setting up his pitching for the next half-inning and did not recognize to pinch run for the slow-footed Flores. When pinch hitter T.J. Rivera followed with a single, right fielder Nick Markakis threw out Flores at the plate.

To add injury to insult, Flores went headfirst into catcher A.J. Pierzynski and had to depart the game with a neck injury. X-rays taken at Turner Field were negative. Flores said he initially "felt really weird and dizzy." That subsided, but his neck remained painful after the game. He did not require concussion testing.

"I should have ran for him there," Collins said. "I was trying to get the pitching set up. My fault. ... He's going to have a stiff neck. But we certainly have enough guys. We could have ran for him, which we should have. I was trying to get the pitching set up and get a pinch hitter in and got distracted. It's my fault."

What's more, Pierzynski sent out signals postgame that he was retiring. He even passed out cigars to teammates and did not officially acknowledge any plans to Atlanta reporters.

Flores has stepped into the primary second-base role with Neil Walker having undergone surgery Thursday to address a herniated disk in his lower back that was causing numbness in a toe.

"I'm just really sore -- my neck and back," Flores said. "I feel a lot of pain right now. If you watch the play, home plate was open. I saw it open and my first thought was a head[first] slide, avoid the tag. When I was head[first] sliding, he got the ball and he ran right into me. It's one of those plays where I really want to score, and I tried to do too much and that's why I got hurt."

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